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Radiographic image capturing apparatus

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20120277625 patent thumbnailZoom

Radiographic image capturing apparatus


A radiographic image capturing apparatus includes a compression member, which is displaceable with respect to a holding member that holds a target object to be examined. The compression member is displaced toward the holding member for compressing the target object held by the holding member while the compression member is tilted with respect to the holding member along lateral directions of the target object as viewed in front elevation.

Browse recent Fujifilm Corporation patents - Tokyo, JP
Inventor: Hiroki NAKAYAMA
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120277625 - Class: 600567 (USPTO) - 11/01/12 - Class 600 
Surgery > Diagnostic Testing >Sampling Nonliquid Body Material (e.g., Bone, Muscle Tissue, Epithelial Cells, Etc.) >Cutting >Body Pierced By Tubular Cutter Or Rod-type Punch



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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120277625, Radiographic image capturing apparatus.

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CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is based upon and claims the benefit of priority from Japanese Patent Application No. 2011-099367 filed on Apr. 27, 2011, of which the contents are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a radiographic image capturing apparatus for compressing a target object to be examined of an examinee, irradiating the target object with radiation, and then detecting and converting radiation that has passed through the target object into a radiographic image.

2. Description of the Related Art

Heretofore, a biopsy procedure has widely been performed in which a sampling needle is inserted into a target object to be examined in order to extract a tissue sample from a test region in the target object. More specifically, a biopsy apparatus for carrying out such a biopsy procedure is incorporated in a radiographic image capturing apparatus for capturing radiographic images of target objects to be examined. The radiographic image capturing apparatus, with the biopsy apparatus incorporated therein, operates in the following manner. A target object to be examined, such as the breast of a patient or a phantom that simulates a breast, is placed on an image capturing base (holding member) and is compressed by a compression plate (compression member), and then the target object is irradiated with radiation. Radiation that has passed through the target object is converted into a radiographic image by a radiation detector. Based on the position of a test region in the target object, which is obtained from the radiographic image, a sampling needle is inserted into the target object to remove a sample tissue of the test region.

Two processes are available in the art for inserting a sampling needle into a target object. According to one of the processes, which may be referred to as a vertical approach process, the sampling needle is inserted through an opening in the compression plate into the target object, along a direction in which the target object is compressed by the compression plate, i.e., along a direction toward the holding member. The other process, which may be referred to as a lateral approach process, inserts the sampling needle laterally into a side area of the target object, which is compressed by the compression plate.

According to the lateral approach process, in a case where the target object is viewed in front elevation, the sampling needle pierces a side area of the target object along a horizontal direction thereof. Therefore, the compression plate does not need to have an opening therein for allowing the sampling needle to pass therethrough. However, since the target object is compressed under uniform pressure along the horizontal direction, in a case where the sampling needle is inserted into the side area of the target object perpendicularly to the direction in which the target object is compressed, the target object is likely to become positionally displaced in a direction away from the side area that is pierced by the sampling needle.

According to the lateral approach process, therefore, compared to the vertical approach process, the pressure applied to compress the target object tends to be stronger, so as to prevent the target object from being unduly positionally displaced. Such increased pressure, which is applied to the target object, poses a greater burden on the target object.

Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2009-207681 and U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0135997 disclose methods of compressing a target object. According to the compressing method disclosed in Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2009-207681, a compression plate is tilted along a depth-wise direction of the target object to compress and hold the target object obliquely to the depth-wise direction. The compressing method disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0135997 uses two rods that extend in a depth-wise direction of the target object. The two rods support respective opposite ends of a flexible sheet and are displaced toward the image capturing base until they reach the same height, whereupon the target object held on the image capturing base is covered with the sheet.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

If the compressing method disclosed in Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2009-207681 is applied to a radiographic image capturing apparatus in which a lateral approach biopsy procedure is carried out, then since the compression plate, which is tilted along the depth-wise direction of the target object, compresses the target object, the pressure applied to the target object is uniform along the horizontal direction of the target object. If the compressing method disclosed in U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0135997 is applied to a radiographic image capturing apparatus in which a lateral approach biopsy procedure is carried out, then since two rods are displaced toward the image capturing base until the rods reach the same height, the pressure applied to the target object also is uniform along the horizontal direction of the target object.

Consequently, even if a lateral approach biopsy procedure is applied in order to compress the target object in the disclosed compressing methods, in a case where the sampling needle is inserted into the target object along the horizontal direction, the compressed target object tends to be positionally displaced by the inserted sampling needle.

It is an object of the present invention to provide a radiographic image capturing apparatus, which is capable of preventing a compressed target object from being positionally displaced upon a lateral approach biopsy procedure being performed on the target object.

To achieve the above object, there is provided in accordance with the present invention a radiographic image capturing apparatus comprising a radiation source for applying radiation to a target object to be examined, a radiation detector for detecting radiation that has passed through the target object and for converting the detected radiation into a radiographic image, a holding member for holding the target object, and a compression member, which is capable of being displaced toward the holding member for compressing the target object held by the holding member while the compression member is tilted with respect to the holding member along lateral directions of the target object as viewed in front elevation.

Since the compression member is tilted with respect to the holding member along lateral directions of the target object as viewed in front elevation, the surfaces of the compression member and the holding member, which compress the target object, are tilted with respect to each other across the target object. Therefore, pressure that is applied to the target object from the compression member and the holding member is distributed unevenly along the lateral directions.

If a portion of the target object where the pressure applied to the target object is relatively low is pierced by a sampling needle along one of the lateral directions, then since the other portion of the target object is compressed and held down in position under a relatively high pressure, the target object is prevented from being unduly positionally displaced, despite the piercing force that the target object receives from the sampling needle. As a consequence, the sampling needle is accurately inserted into the target object with respect to a test region therein, whereby the sampling needle can reliably and efficiently remove a sample tissue from the test region.

According to the present invention, therefore, since the compression member compresses the target object held by the holding member while the compression member is tilted with respect to the holding member along the lateral directions of the target object, the pressure that is applied to the target object from the compression member and the holding member is unevenly distributed along the lateral directions. As a result, the compressed target object is prevented from being unduly positionally displaced during a lateral approach biopsy procedure. Further, preventing the compressed target object from being unduly positionally displaced is effective to avoid compressing the target object under excessively high pressure, so that undue stress on the target object can be reduced.

The radiographic image capturing apparatus may further include a sampling needle for piercing a side region of the target object compressed by the compression member along a piercing direction to remove a sample tissue from a test region in the target object, and a tilted direction determiner for determining a tilted direction in which the compression member is tilted with respect to the holding member based on the piercing direction. Therefore, the tilted direction in which the compression member is tilted with respect to the holding member is determined based on the piercing direction along which the side portion of the target object is pierced. Consequently, the target object is effectively prevented from being unduly positionally displaced when the sampling needle pierces the target object.

In a case where the sampling needle pierces the side region of the target object, the tilted direction determiner may determine the tilted direction such that the distance between the holding member and the compression member becomes progressively smaller from the side region of the target object toward an opposite side region thereof. Accordingly, the pressure under which the target object is compressed is relatively low on one side of the target object where the compression member and the holding member are widely spaced from each other, whereas the pressure under which the target object is compressed on the other side of the target object is relatively high where the compression member and the holding member are in close proximity to each other. In a case where the one side of the target object is pierced by the sampling needle along one of the lateral directions, since the other side of the target object is compressed or held down in position under a relatively high pressure, the target object is reliably prevented from being unduly positionally displaced toward the other side along the one lateral direction.

The radiographic image capturing apparatus may further include a piercing direction determiner for determining the piercing direction of the sampling needle with respect to the target object based on a present position of the sampling needle. Since the piercing direction determiner automatically determines the piercing direction, the tilted direction can easily be determined.

The compression member may further comprise a compression plate, which is displaceable from the radiation source toward the holding member, or a compression plate, which is displaceable from the radiation source toward the holding member and a first spacer interposed between the compression plate and the target object, or a compression sheet, which is displaceable from the radiation source toward the holding member. The holding member may comprise an image capturing base that houses the radiation detector therein for holding the target object, or an image capturing base that houses the radiation detector therein for holding the target object and a second spacer, which is interposed between the image capturing base and the target object.

With the compression member and the holding member being constructed as described above, the following arrangements [1] through [9] for the radiographic image capturing apparatus may be provided.

[1] The radiographic image capturing apparatus may include a first rotational shaft extending in a depth-wise direction of the target object and which is coupled to the compression plate, and a rotary actuator for rotating the compression plate about the first rotational shaft, so as to tilt the compression plate with respect to the holding member. The compression plate can thus be easily tilted with respect to the holding member. [2] The radiographic image capturing apparatus may include a tilted state maintaining mechanism for keeping the compression plate in a tilted state where the compression plate is tilted such that an end or an opposite end thereof is closer to the holding member across the target object as viewed in front elevation. The target object can thus reliably be kept in a compressed state. [3] In [1] or [2], after the target object has been compressed by the compression plate and the holding member, the compression plate may be tilted with respect to the holding member, or alternatively, after the compression plate has been tilted with respect to the holding member, the target object may be compressed by the tilted compression plate and the holding member. In either case, the target object is compressed and held under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof. [4] The compression plate may have a surface that faces toward the target object and is constructed as a slanted surface, which is inclined with respect to the holding member, wherein the target object is compressed by the holding member and the slanted surface of the compression plate. In this manner, the target object can be compressed and held under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof, simply by the compression plate being displaced toward the holding member. [5] The first spacer may have a surface that faces toward the target object and is constructed as a slanted surface, which is inclined with respect to the holding member, wherein the target object is compressed by the holding member and the slanted surface of the first spacer. With this arrangement, the target object can also be compressed and held under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof, simply by the compression plate and the first spacer being displaced toward the holding member. [6] The second spacer may have a surface that faces toward the target object and is constructed as a slanted surface, which is inclined with respect to the compression member, wherein the target object is compressed by the compression member and the slanted surface of the second spacer. With this arrangement, the target object can also be compressed and held under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof, simply by the compression member being displaced toward the second spacer. [7] The radiographic image capturing apparatus may further include a first rod, which extends in a depth-wise direction of the target object as viewed in front elevation and supports an end of the compression sheet, a second rod, which extends in the depth-wise direction of the target object and supports an opposite end of the compression sheet, a first rod movement controller for moving the first rod toward and away from the holding member, and a second rod movement controller for moving the second rod toward and away from the holding member.

The compression sheet may be tilted with respect to the holding member in a case where the first rod movement controller moves the first rod with respect to the holding member and the second rod movement controller moves the second rod with respect to the holding member. In this manner, even if the compression sheet is used, the target object can be compressed and held under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof.

[8] In [7], the first rod movement controller and the second rod movement controller may move the first rod and the second rod to respective different heights above the holding member, for thereby tilting the compression sheet with respect to the holding member. In this manner, the target object can be compressed and held under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof. [9] The radiographic image capturing apparatus may further include a radiation source housing unit housing the radiation source therein, an arm connecting the radiation source housing unit and the image capturing base to each other, a compression member support supporting the compression member for movement with respect to the arm, and a second rotational shaft coupled to the arm.

The arm may be turned about the second rotational shaft to tilt the image capturing base with respect to the compression member. If the arm, the radiation source housing unit, and the image capturing base are turned in unison, the image capturing base is tilted with respect to the compression member for thereby compressing and holding the target object under an uneven pressure along the lateral directions thereof.

The above and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which preferred embodiments of the present invention are shown by way of illustrative example.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a mammographic apparatus as a radiographic image capturing apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an enlarged fragmentary side elevational view of the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a biopsy apparatus including a biopsy needle, which is incorporated in the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a compressed breast;

FIG. 5 is a plan view showing the manner in which the biopsy needle is inserted into the compressed breast;

FIG. 6A is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the breast is compressed by a compression plate and an image capturing base;

FIG. 6B is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the breast is compressed by the compression plate, which is tilted with respect to the image capturing base;

FIG. 6C is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the biopsy needle is inserted into the compressed breast;

FIG. 7A is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the breast is compressed by the compression plate and the image capturing base;

FIG. 7B is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the breast is compressed by the compression plate, which is tilted with respect to the image capturing base;

FIG. 7C is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the biopsy needle is inserted into the compressed breast;

FIG. 8A is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the compression plate is tilted with respect to the image capturing base;

FIG. 8B is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the breast is compressed by the tilted compression plate and the image capturing base;

FIG. 8C is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the biopsy needle is inserted into the compressed breast;

FIG. 9A is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the compression plate is tilted with respect to the image capturing base;

FIG. 9B is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the breast is compressed by the tilted compression plate and the image capturing base;

FIG. 9C is a front elevational view showing the manner in which the biopsy needle is inserted into the compressed breast;

FIG. 10 is a block diagram of the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 11 is a flowchart of an operation sequence of the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of a mammographic apparatus according to a first modification;

FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view taken along line XIII-XIII of FIG. 12, showing tilted state maintaining mechanisms;

FIGS. 14A and 14B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by tilted compression plates and an image capturing base according to the first modification;

FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a mammographic apparatus according to a second modification;

FIG. 16 is a fragmentary front elevational view of tilted state maintaining mechanisms according to the second modification;

FIGS. 17A and 17B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by tilted compression plates and an image capturing base according to the second modification;

FIGS. 18A and 18B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a tilted compression plate and an image capturing base according to a third modification;

FIGS. 19A and 19B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a slanted surface of a compression plate and an image capturing base according to a fourth modification;

FIGS. 20A and 20B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a slanted surface of a compression plate and an image capturing base according to a fifth modification;

FIGS. 21A and 21B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a compression plate and an image capturing base while the image capturing base and a radiation source are turned or tilted with respect to the compression plate according to a sixth modification;

FIGS. 22A and 22B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a slanted surface of a spacer on a compression plate and an image capturing base according to a seventh modification;

FIGS. 23A and 23B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a slanted surface of a spacer on an image capturing base and a compression plate according to an eighth modification;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of a mammographic apparatus according to a ninth modification;

FIG. 25A is a front elevational view showing a breast prior to being compressed by a compression sheet and an image capturing base of the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 24;

FIG. 25B is a front elevational view showing a breast, which is compressed and held in position by the compression sheet and the image capturing base of the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 24;

FIGS. 26A and 26B are front elevational view showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed and held in position by the compression sheet and the image capturing base of the mammographic apparatus shown in FIG. 24;

FIGS. 27A and 27B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a slanted surface of a spacer on an image capturing base and a compression sheet according to a tenth modification; and

FIGS. 28A and 28B are front elevational views showing the manner in which a biopsy needle is inserted into a breast, which is compressed by a compression sheet and an image capturing base while the image capturing base and a radiation source are turned or tilted with respect to the compression sheet according to an eleventh modification.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Radiographic image capturing apparatus according to preferred embodiments of the present invention will be described in detail below with reference to FIGS. 1 through 28B.

Configuration of the Mammographic Apparatus 10

As shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, a mammographic apparatus 10, which serves as a radiographic image capturing apparatus according to an embodiment of the present invention, basically includes an upstanding base 12, a vertical arm 16 fixed to the distal end of a horizontal swing shaft 14 (second rotational shaft) disposed substantially centrally on the base 12, a radiation source housing unit 26 accommodating a radiation source 24 therein for applying radiation 22 to a breast 20 (see FIG. 2) as a target object to be examined of an examinee 18, the radiation source housing unit 26 being fixed to an upper end of the arm 16, and an image capturing base 30 (holding member) fixed to a lower end of the arm 16 and housing therein a solid-state detector 28 (see FIG. 2) for detecting radiation 22 that has passed through the breast 20.

The arm 16 has a vertical groove 32 defined in a side surface (front side) thereof, which faces toward the examinee 18 in the direction indicated by the arrow Y and extends in the directions indicated by the arrow Z. A compression plate support 34 is vertically movably supported on the arm 16 for displacement along the groove 32 in the directions indicated by the arrow Z.

The compression plate support 34 includes a proximal end portion 34a inserted in the groove 32 and held in fitting engagement with a mount (not shown) in the groove 32. The proximal end portion 34a is disposed between the radiation source housing unit 26 and the image capturing base 30. The compression plate support 34 also includes two intermediate bars 34b, 34c extending from the free end of the proximal end portion 34a toward the image capturing base 30, and a joint 34d interconnecting distal ends of the intermediate bars 34b, 34c. The joint 34d is coupled to a rotational shaft 36 (first rotational shaft) extending in the direction indicated by the arrow Y (also referred to as a depth-wise direction of the breast 20). A compression plate 38 (compression member) for compressing and holding the breast 20 against the image capturing base 30 is pivotally supported on the distal end of the rotational shaft 36. The joint 34d houses therein a motor 47 (rotary actuator) for rotating the rotational shaft 36 about its axis. By energization of the motor 47, the motor 47 rotates the rotational shaft 36 about its axis, thereby turning the compression plate 38 about the axis of the rotational shaft 36.

To the base 12, there is connected a display control panel 40 for displaying image capturing conditions including an image capturing region, etc., of the examinee 18, ID information of the examinee 18, etc., and for setting such items of information as necessary.

In a case where the arm 16, to which the radiation source housing unit 26 and the image capturing base 30 are secured, is angularly moved about the swing shaft 14, an image capturing direction with respect to the breast 20 of the examinee 18 is adjusted. The radiation source housing unit 26 is coupled to the arm 16 by a hinge 42, so as to be angularly movable in the directions indicated by the arrow θ independently of the image capturing base 30.

Handles 44 are mounted on respective sides of the arm 16, which face away from each other along the directions indicated by the arrow X, i.e., the horizontal direction of the breast 20. The handles 44 are gripped by the examinee 18. The arm 16 has two holes 46 defined in the front side thereof near the image capturing base 30, one on each side of the groove 32.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120277625 A1
Publish Date
11/01/2012
Document #
13456884
File Date
04/26/2012
USPTO Class
600567
Other USPTO Classes
250393
International Class
/
Drawings
29


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Surgery   Diagnostic Testing   Sampling Nonliquid Body Material (e.g., Bone, Muscle Tissue, Epithelial Cells, Etc.)   Cutting   Body Pierced By Tubular Cutter Or Rod-type Punch